ODIHR report on BiH General Elections full of recommendations for improvement of the electoral process

ODIHR report on BiH General Elections full of recommendations for improvement of the electoral process

The BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs in BiH’s technical mandate today forwarded to the key political institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, the report by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which says that BiH citizens right to freely think and vote for its representatives is jeopardised.

Minister Igor Crnadak said at the press conference that institutions must respond to this report immediately, which says that public broadcasting services are abused and put into the function of certain political options.

“A response to this report has to be adopted because if there is no response the elections could become meaningless. The EU, based on ODIHR reports, estimates the development of democracy and human rights”, Crnadak said.

He pointed out that, in terms of BiH’s progress on the European path, it is crucial for local politicians to agree and change things, strengthen institutions and enable the functioning of the system, and that public administration reforms will be one of the most important points for measuring progress.

“Our institutions are not efficient enough, impartial and independent, and there are a lot to be done in the upcoming period,” said Crnadak, who is also chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska for European Integration and Regional Cooperation.

The ODIHR document contains the full report about the BiH General Elections and the recommendations, which should be fulfilled in a reasonable period of time.

Regarding media coverage, ODIHR said that Public broadcasters monitored by the ODIHR EOM covered campaign developments in a balanced manner in special election programmes, which took about half of their total election-related coverage. Contentious issues related to administration of the elections were also covered in prime time news.

“Public broadcaster Radio Television of Republika Srpska (RTRS) was often accused by ODIHR EOM interlocutors of biased coverage in favour of the SNSD. The ODIHR EOM media monitoring results confirmed that on RTRS Mr Milorad Dodik enjoyed the advantage of being extensively covered both as the RS president and as a candidate, which challenged the level playing field. Within regular news and analytical current affairs programmes, campaign coverage was largely dedicated to Mr Dodik, both in public and private media outlets. On many private channels, the news coverage of Mr Dodik was rather negative (between 33 and 79 per cent of coverage in a negative tone), while public channels were more balanced. All other parties and their respective presidential candidates received significantly less, albeit positive or neutral, coverage”, is emphasized in the report.

In the part about the election process, one of the recommendations is for the state to protect voters and their right on a free and secret choice.

“The voting procedures should be reviewed to ensure the secrecy of the vote and protection against undue influence on voters. The importance of ballot secrecy should be emphasized during the training of election commissions and in voter education materials. The practice of announcing voters’ names in the polling stations should be reconsidered. Consideration should be given to a ban on keeping track of voters who voted on election day by political subjects, including by using voter lists in the polling stations”, ODIHR stress.

It was also said that political subjects should follow the law and refrain from exercising pressure on voters. Cases of alleged pressure on voters should be examined promptly, thoroughly and effectively, and perpetrators held accountable in a timely manner by the prosecutors and the CEC./ibna